The president of the Baltimore police union called a recent Saturday Night Live sketch portraying city officers a “grossly inapt portrayal,” in a letter addressed to the show’s executive producer.
“As you are most likely aware, the Baltimore Police department is currently a very beleaguered agency in the throes of massive amounts of criticism and disrespect,” wrote Lt. Gene Ryan, the president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3, in a letter to SNL’s Lorne Michaels on Wednesday. “Many of our members, especially our younger ones, are struggling with their choice of career and we are losing good and credible members daily.
“It is a difficult time in Baltimore and to portray our brave, hard-working members with such an inappropriate manner is very unfortunate.”
Ryan’s letter came in response to a sketch, “Traffic Stop,” that aired last weekend and featured Baltimore native Ego Nwodim and Leslie Jones as police officers stopping Seth Meyers, who returned to “SNL” as host. The sketch opens with the title “Thirsty Cops.”
The officers pulled Meyers’ character over during a traffic stop and their explanation for why they've asked him out of the car: “You’re fine as hell.”
During the stop, Jones’ character tells Meyers, “You have the right to remain silent. And anything you say or do may be held … against my body.”
Both actresses were wearing Baltimore police badges on their uniforms.
Ryan said he appreciates the “iconic” show that serves as a source of humor “necessary in all our lives.”
But Ryan said the show went too far using the patches that his officers wear every day with pride, officers “who run to the sound of gunfire” to protect the city, and some officers who have lost their lives while wearing them.
The skit, he said, wasn’t humorous, but “a sharp jab at a group of people who have dedicated their lives to serving others.”
The department has suffered a number of embarrassments in recent months, including an officer who was fired after he was found drunk on the job and another fired after he was captured on a viral video repeatedly punching a man. It’s now under a federal consent decree after an investigation found a pattern and practice of violating people’s rights. Its reputation was further tarnished after eight Gun Trace Task Force officers were convicted of federal racketeering charges.
Amid the recent challenges, the department is trying to recruit more officers, including minorities, woman and millennials to fill its ranks.